Program Director's 2016/17 Year in Review for S.M.I.L.E.

The Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program had an incredible year with many exciting achievements in 2016-17!  We can certainly “Smile at the possibilities!

I am honoured to have the opportunity to have led the S.M.I.L.E program as the Director for the past 15 years! For me, my husband, Jamie, and my children, Harrison, Olivia, and Jacob, S.M.I.L.E. is family! We are thankful for the opportunity to spend each program day, each year, in such an incredible environment!  We can't put into words the honour of sharing in watching a child walk, wheel, speak, or swim for the first time!  It’s incredible to see our volunteers lead in the manner in which they do! We are looking forward to sharing S.M.I.L.E. with you for many years to come!

The year was an incredible success due to Andrew Roach and his leadership as the S.M.I.L.E. Program Coordinator!  He spends endless hours ensuring that all is taking place at the level that it needs to with regards to all of the programming!  We are also very blessed to have Kim Vaughan who oversees all of the financial aspects related to the programming and who also assists with the administrative demands.  Peggy Weir is another key administrative assistant in the School of Kinesiology who diligently assists us with ongoing S.M.I.L.E. related tasks.  It is wonderful to have a team to ensure that S.M.I.L.E. is a success! J  We would like to thank Joan Craig and the Craig Family Foundation for their continuing support and contributions to the S.M.I.L.E. program to fund Andrew’s position and positively impact the lives of so many students and participants.

At the initial “Call for Volunteers” in September 2016, there were nearly 600 students in attendance!  It was an incredible start to a successful S.M.I.L.E. year!

There were over 400 Acadia student volunteers – Student Directors, Leaders, and Instructors - who were paired with 280 children, youth, and adults over four of the program days! The students were highly committed, compassionate, and creative as always by implementing theme days in the gym, rink, and the pool and community outings – all based around the importance of physical literacy in all of our lives!

The Acadia Student Union, led by one of our S.M.I.L.E. Student Directors, Luke Coxhead, continued to support their community through a fund raising initiative titled “Axes in Action!”  They organized a campaign on the first Saturday of September where many first year students, along with Resident Assistants and S.M.I.L.E. volunteers, fundraised throughout the Valley!  The funds were shared between the S.M.I.L.E. program and L’Arche Homefires!!

The University of Toronto, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education implemented S.M.I.L.E in September 2016 as a part of their Masters of Professional Kinesiology Program.  Two of our former S.M.I.L.E. volunteers, Kyla Crocker and Abby Bourgoin, were students in the MPK program who led the way!  They had a highly successful year of S.M.I.L.E.!

The first instalment of the Jack Scholz Snoezelen room was installed in July 2016! The space was used for each of our programming days during the fall and winter semesters.  The multi-sensory space provides an environment for participants of all ages and ability levels to engage in purposeful physical activity.  Some of the benefits of an environment such as this are as follows: educating, empowering, enriching, relaxing, and stimulating.

Again this year, I ‘ve had the honour to share S.M.I.L.E. through formal presentations at schools, Rotary Clubs, and various Universities.  I’ve also had the honour to work with students while completing directed readings courses, independent studies, and Honours, Masters, Doctorate, and Post-Doctorate work while researching various aspects regarding the S.M.I.L.E. program.  The following are some research projects that took place during S.M.I.L.E. programming this academic year:

(1) Lauren Buckley –  Social Interactions of a Preschooler with Autism Spectrum Disorder;

(2) Alex Coffin – The Constructs of Adapted Aquatics for Children and Youth with Disabilities;

(3) Dominik D’Antuono – S.M.I.L.E. Programming in Physical Education Settings in Germany;

(4) Annie Macartney – Implementing the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy on Children with Disabilities;

(5) Abby MacNeil – Snoezelen Programming at S.M.I.L.E.;

(6) Sarah Osborne  - S.M.I.L.E. Impact;

(7) Celina Shirazapour – The Secret of S.M.I.L.E.: Development and Delivery of a Model Adapted Physical Activity Program;

(8) Jodi Stinson - Exploring the Impact of Diet and Physical Activity Intensity on Behaviours of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder;

(9) Mary Sweatman – Perspective of Acadia Student Volunteers regarding the S.M.I.L.E. Experience.

Thank you to Heidi Wohlmuth and her family, Steve, Valerie, Kaitlyn, and Edmund, along with the Launchers Athletics, for fundraising for the North West Territory section of the Snoezelen room.  We are so thankful for the families who make this a priority in their lives!

In April, one of our long time S.M.I.L.E. participants, Harrison Czapalay, initiated a highly successful fundraiser for both S.M.I.L.E. and the Valley Autism Chapter as he brought awareness to autism through the Light It Up Blue International Campaign for the second year!  It was amazing to see the University buildings lit up blue! Each student and participant also wore blue on April 1st and 2nd to celebrate the occasion! Thank you, Harrison!

Thank you to our S.M.I.L.E. participants as well as present and past volunteers, who have secured funds for S.M.I.L.E. this year – Dr. Wightman and Dr. Smith; Lawson Foundation (Dr. Jonathon Fowles’ award funding); Acadia Players Association (Emma Connell); Shoot, Score, S.M.I.L.E. (Geoffrey Shemitsch, Kyle Ritchie, Kyla White, Michael Clarke, Taylor Makin); Michelin Tires (The Dickson Family); Pepsico; Annapolis Cider Company (Michael Gnemmi): We’re Outside (Emily Sweeney).

S.M.I.L.E has been highlighted in the MacLean’s magazine and Accessible Media Television.  Thank you to those of you who shared their S.M.I.L.E. experience through those mediums!

Thank you all for sharing in S.M.I.L.E!

Take care,

Roxanne Seaman

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Mother Teresa